US President Barack Obama's trip to Australia signals a shift in US policy that recognises the increasing threat of China, says Geoffrey Garrett, CEO of the US Studies Centre at Sydney University.
The US president has squeezed the visit in between attending APEC and the East Asia Summit in Bali in a move which analysts say highlights a renewed focus on the Asia Pacific region.
According to Geoffrey Garrett, CEO of the US Studies Centre at Sydney University, there are two elements to the US foreign policy agenda.
“The first one is to shore up the US's military alliances, including with Australia; essentially as an insurance policy that China's rise, which up until now has been benign, might turn a little more malign,” Garrett said.
During his visit, President Obama is expected to announce an increase in military cooperation between the US and Australia, an agreement which is likely to see US Marines stationed in Darwin.
According to Garrett, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) discussed at APEC shows economic structure to the region is also on the US's agenda.
Tom Switzer, a research associate from the US Studies Centre, warns these changes will make it difficult for Australian diplomacy to find balance between the two super powers.
“I think that Australia is not faced with a hard, stark choice between China and America, it's not. But it is faced with a difficult diplomatic game of riding two horses simultaneously,” Switzer said at a press conference.